IRVINGTON / NEWARK, NJ — Hakim Jackman was on the way to his mechanic to check on the progress of his second vehicle when his truck got stuck in a flash flood last Wednesday night as remnants of Hurricane Ida battered Essex County with flood waters and power outages.
As Jackman was driving into Irvington from West End Avenue in Newark, the rain started coming down harder, and Jackman decided to turn around to head home. Then he drove into water gathering on the street, and it started rising in a flash flood.
“I pretty much rolled into a lake,” Jackman said in a phone interview with the Irvington Herald on Sept. 3. “Then I saw a car sink, and I panicked. The car sinking set off a wave, and I thought I was going to drown, so I called my family and told them where I was.”
The water went up to his chest, so Jackman wasn’t going to be able to walk home. There weren’t any other people on the street, so he yelled to the apartment building he was stopped in front of. A resident let him into the lobby to wait it out.
“They let me in and I stayed there. They gave me sandwiches,” Jackman said.
Eventually, someone, who he assumed was the landlord or the apartment building’s manager, went to the lobby and told Jackman he couldn’t stay inside the building.
“I said, ‘I can’t go out there. Do you not see what’s going on?’” he said. “I didn’t want to go out there and drown. I stood my ground.”
Jackman stayed in the lobby and waited until the flood abated. It took six hours for it to recede to his waist level; he was able to leave the apartment building and walk home. Fortunately, his truck didn’t float away, as it was big enough to stay put in the middle of the street.
“There were cars floating,” Jackman said. “Mine is a big truck, so it stayed there. I’m hoping it can be brought back.”
Jackman’s story is just one of many stories of Irvington residents battling rising water and seeking help from neighbors during the deluge from the remnants of Hurricane Ida. Many of those neighbors were kind enough to lend a hand. With widespread flooding and power outages, each Irvington resident has a tale to tell. Unfortunately, not all these tales ended as well as Jackman’s. Many residents lost personal belongings when their homes flooded and their vehicles when they floated away. Irvington residents were largely able to get through the storm by relying on one another.
Despite one person asking Jackman to go back out into the storm, the rest of the residents in the building were happy to help him wait it out. He eventually waded back out to his car to get a change of clothes, because what he was wearing was soaked through, and he was shivering.
“The whole apartment was sympathetic,” he said. “They wanted to help. They fed me and brought blankets when I got cold. The flood was something I had never seen before. So I saw the bad side of people, but also the good side.”
Photos Courtesy of Hakim Jackman and Donald M. Payne Jr.